5 The disciples reached the other shore, and they had forgotten to take bread. 6 Then Jesus told them, “Watch out and beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 7 And they discussed among themselves, “We didn’t bring any bread.” 8 Aware of this, Jesus said, “You of little faith! Why are you discussing among yourselves that you do not have bread? 9 Don’t you understand yet? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the 5,000 and how many baskets you collected? 10 Or the seven loaves for the 4,000 and how many large baskets you collected? 11 Why is it you don’t understand that when I told you, ‘Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees,’ it wasn’t about bread?” 12 Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the yeast in bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
The Real Battle.
Jesus disciples were focused on their stomachs, not their spirits! The real battle happens spiritually, not physically. Dark forces influence God’s people toward empty, earthly pursuits that lead them away from the spiritually fulfilling mission of glorifying God. This glorious mission is wrapped in a relationship of covenantal love (Hessed in Hebrew – Nu 19:14, Ps 6:4, etc.) between God and His kids. God’s glorification of Himself through us in love is the purpose for which we were made (Gen. 1-2, Gen. 12:1-3, 1 Pet. 2:9). To experience all God has for his people in this relational covenant, His people must identify the dark influences (leaven) around them and differentiate themselves from such influence. In the above passage, the satanic influence is the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. These religious leaders pursue earthly power (a very routine and effective temptation for all men). This basic pursuit of earthly power becomes a spiritual, satanic detour for would-be-disciples of Jesus. He sternly warns them to pay attention to – and differentiate themselves – from such influences. (See Col 3:1-3.)
The “leaven” working around and in us takes many forms. These influences are fleshly at best, and Satanic at worst. Here are three molds these influences can take.
1. Such an influence can be an obvious assault on our basic human desires such as a sexually stimulating billboard that directs our minds from the heavenly to the fleshly realm.
2. The influence can be cloaked in a coworker’s anxious attitude that creates a rushed environment crowding out the space necessary for human beings to sense the Divine leadership of the Holy Spirit.
3. Maybe the most hidden hindrance to the pursuit of Divine glory is an undisciplined desire to love and serve God and his people (see Peter as a minister-in-training in the Gospels, Matt 16:23). Our unformed spirits seek to serve God but do not have the transformed capacity to do so appropriately. This influence does not wait on God and is self-righteous.
The enemy can use all forms of “leaven” to constrain our pursuit of Christ’s glory. Let us learn to differentiate ourselves from the “leaven” of false teaching and ignorant living so we may pursue Jesus with abandon.